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Thursday, March 19, 2009

bullshit detector reaches critical levels [re: auditor general].

Alberta's Auditor General Fred Dunn recently announced the delay or cancellation of 27 out of 80 planned system and financial audits due to budget constraints and yesterday, after opposition MLAs once again attempted (and failed) to increase funding for the Auditor General, the remarks of two backbench PC MLAs really caught my attention:

Calgary-Egmont MLA Jonathan Denis:

"Realistically everybody would like more money, I would like more money, but the reality is we froze our paycheques this year. This is the first time in 15 years we froze our paycheques. And similarly we don’t want to ge giving extra money to departments where that’s not required.”
Athabasca-Redwater MLA Jeff Johnson:
"We're in a time of great financial restraint," Johnson said. "I don't know how we (justify) going from $21.5 million to $25 million in one year...." "Nobody has enough money to do the job they'd like to do."
The mandate of the Auditor General of Alberta is to 'identify opportunities and propose solutions for the improved use of public resources, and to improve and add credibility to performance reporting, including financial reporting, to Albertans.' Ensuring financial and systematic efficiency through these audits is one of our government's most important responsibilities to the hardworking citizens and taxpayers of this province. Albertans should not have to wait until good economic times for the Auditor General to have the resources to do the most effective job possible.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tough times demand sacrifices, and it's unsurprising that a tax-and-spend liberal like you would seek to increase the size of government during these troubled times. With posts as out of touch as this one, it's no wonder your party lost so soundly last year.

Michael from Calgary said...

Anonymous completely missed the point of Dave's post. Increasing funding for the Auditor General will make government more cost efficient and give taxpayers a better bang for their buck. Where's the taxpayers' federation on this one?

Anonymous said...

Here's a list of the cancelled or delayed audits from Trish Audette's Journal Blog:

Cancelled

Post-secondary institution facility capacity and utilization

Post-secondary institution program planning

Health High Level Systems

Deferred to October 2009

Highwood Communications and the public affairs bureau

Mount Royal College governance (follow-up)

Homeless Eviction Prevention

Food safety (follow-up under Health and Wellness)

Infection control

Deferred to 2010

Financial support for children with disabilities system

Workplace health and safety

SREM

Academic medicine (governance and accountability under Health and Wellness)

Deferred to 2011

Measuring the effectiveness of the fiscal regime (Finance and Enterprise)

Deferred indefinitely

Ensuring the collection of royalties

ERCB regulatory framework

Monitoring daycare and day home services

Horse Racing Alberta

Information lifecycle management audit (cross-government issue)

IT project management (cross-government issue)

Security awareness (cross-government)

Unauthorized devices and sofware assessment

Improving School Performance

Alberta Utilities Commission Regulatory Systems

Network Security Review (under Service Alberta)

On-schedule for April 2009

University of Alberta security services (follow-up)

Food safety (follow-up)

Water quality

Emergency preparedness (follow-up under Municipal Affairs)

Reforestation (follow-up)

On-schedule for October 2009

Education public-private partnerships

Administration of oilsands royalty regime

Climate change (Part 2)

Contaminated sites (follow-up)

Land disturbances (follow-up)

Electronic health records

Bow Valley College Capital Project Management

University of Alberta contracting (follow-up)

University of Calgary budgeting (follow-up)

Agriculture and Rural Development systems (follow-up)

Agriculture/rural development grant management (follow-up)

ATB financial core banking system

Real estate property management

AHS capital project management

IT management framework (follow-up under Municipal Affairs)

Contract management of PDDs (follow-up under Seniors and Community Supports)

Service Alberta contract management

Service Alberta performance measurement systems (follow-up)

Contract management (follow-up under Sustainable Resource Development)

Commercial vehicle safety (and more in April 2010)

On-schedule for April 2010

School board budeting (follow-up)

Regulatory oversight of financial institutions

Accountability of RHAs to Health

Health Ministry annual reports results analysis (follow-up)

Physician billings (follow-up)

Global funding (follow-up, under Health and Wellness)

Protecting information assets

Public security peace officer program

Elinor Lake (follow-up)

Capital planning (follow-up under Treasury Board)

On-schedule for October 2010

Royalty regime review process (follow-up)

University of Calgary sponsored research and trust fund (follow-up)

Revenue forecasting (follow-up)

Managing Alberta's forest lands

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:26 did indeed miss the point. He/she also seems to agree with the MLAs quoted in thinking the Auditor General is part of Government - just another "department." As Michael hinted, the AG is supposed to be an independent watchdog of government waste. More audits could SAVE money. No surprise that those who could be embarrassed by the audits want to cut the funding needed to conduct them.

Cathie said...

Alberta has a +$30 Billion annual budget and the Auditor General is only given $21 million for audits? With enough resources I'm sure the AG could find enough duplication and inefficiencies to bring down spending and make government more efficient. Maybe we would be running a smaller deficit (or no deficit) in Alberta if AG funding was increased?

Anonymous said...

Tax and spend Tories.

Aaron said...

Anonymous @ 11:26.

It's like this: the GOA is cutting back on the department whose mandate is to ferret out waste, which is the purpose of an efficiency audit. If the AG had enough funds to conduct these efficiency audits, it would be able to tell who is really tightening their belts and who's not. You hire an auditor to get a clear financial picture of a company, and the same is true for government.

Anonymous said...

Here here!

KBH said...

Typical predictable Leftie whining. Give the bureaucracy more money so they can find Tory scandals. Ed Stelmach is doing a great job making government effective and I bet he personally sits down with Iris Evans with a big black marker to cut government waste.

Kyle said...

KBH: You can't seriously expect that Ed Stelmach and Iris Evans have the time or audit knowledge to sit down and inspect the efficiencies of a $33B government budget? It is the Auditor General's job.

Chief of Staff to the President of Daveberta said...

KBH: That is quite possibly the most fantastical thing I have ever read. The very idea that Ed Stelmach is as good as an auditor general is the craziest kind of bullshit.

You do not hire an Auditor General to root our scandal (that is what opposition parties are for), you hire them to provide you clear, nonpartisan feedback on the finances of the various functions of government. Their job is to provide what amounts to constructive financial criticism to governments about the way programs, departments and ministries spend money. The better the auditor general, the tighter the financial ship.

That you are offended by the idea of an AG is a reaction to a long-ingrained narrative that one group of politicians (in this case, the Progressive Conservatives) is so trustworthy that they do not require oversight. Your shortsighted and absolute faith in someone that you do not know beyond what they have chosen to present to you publicly is one of the most dangerous ideas that you could spread in a democracy.

This is not your fault. Blame upbringing or maybe genetics, but had you been able to think critically when you first came to realize your role as a citizen in a democracy, you would likely not have so eagerly ceded your mental sovereignty to such bleak and hollow dogmas.

You cannot be saved. If you want to be a patriot of your province and nation, you should immediately disengage from the political arena altogether. Begin to ask your God for forgiveness. Do not discuss politics. Do not read about politics. Vote, but do so randomly.

When a limb has become gangrenous, it must be cut off to save the body.

May God have mercy on your soul.

one_less said...

Looks like there are some trolls on daveberta.....

Matt E said...

Does Jonathan Denis think that Albertans should feel sorry for MLAs because they had their paychecks frozen? In 2008 the voted themselves a +30% payhike behind closed doors. I do not feel one shred of sympathy for politicians who talk to the "common people" from one side of their mouth and then talk about dipping even further into the public trough from the other. And I used to be a Conservative Party supporter!

Anonymous said...

This is bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Actually Matt, MLA's only received a cost of living (4% or so) adjustment last year. This year MLA pay was frozen completely. Personally I think they should have taken their cost of living increase this year.